Australian war widow-daughter pair receive special Invictus Games tribute

There have been many special moments at the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 presented by Jaguar Land Rover, but none quite like the encounter between a German Brigadier and an Australian war widow with her daughter.

Attending the athletics as a tribute to their late husband-father, Carmel Gazal and her daughter Gabrielle were in the crowd when the German Minister for Defence Ursula von der Leyen and Brigadier Michael Bond visited the German team.

John Gazal was a member of the Australian 9th Field Ambulance, who worked alongside the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels rescuing the injured and fallen in the Battle of Kokoda, during the second World War.

In what was a simple gesture, the Gazal women, who were sitting just meters away, held up two signs to the international guests which said: “Well done! We admire you!” and “You are amazing”.

“I caught the eye of the Brigadier and we held up our signs,” Gabrielle said.

“For me it was to fast-forward from the war; I saw it as a reunification.

“Mum and I came to the Invictus Games to pay homage to the servicemen and women of the modern era and to remember my dad.

“My holding up the sign was as a tribute to my dad and gesture of peace for all those who served like him.”

What happened next took the women, and all those in the crowd, by surprise.

The Brigadier stood, approached them, shook 90-year-old Carmel’s hand and without anyone noticing, in that handshake, gave the war widow a special commemorative medal.

“It was a very special moment for both of us,” Gabrielle said.

“My father suffered his demons from what he did in the war and it impacted our lives and ended his prematurely.

“Today we came to say, ‘Dad we are here for you’, and to support our current war veterans. We came away with so much more. It was a very special moment.”

By Catriona Dixon
Invictus Games Sydney 2018